Tuesday, 27 March 2012

ferdiesfoodlab + Beer = Awesome

So Saturday was a pretty special day for me, not just because it as St Patrick's day (nod to Irish heritage) but also because it was mine and the lovely Jane Cai's four year anniversary. We decided to celebrate by revisiting Ferdie's Food Lab. We attended the opening weekend sometime last summer for my 25th birthday and enjoyed it so much we knew we would be coming back, all we needed was the right occasion. ferdiesfoodlab (www.ferdiesfoodlab.co.uk) is a supper club run by Simon Fernandez, formerly of Fernandez and Leluu. The dinner is hosted at the beautiful Toynbee Hall in Aldgate East. This is really convenient for me as it is about a fifteen minute walk from my house, happy days. 

Despite the title of this blog the event did not need beer to make it awesome, the food was excellent, beer was a happy companion. On our original visit I had a (slightly drunken) conversation with Simon about potentially doing some beer matching for his menus in the future. When you attend you already get wine matching suggestions for the dinner and I felt beer could be a welcome addition. Nothing came of it after the first visit due to my lack of action. Since then my beer knowledge had improved and I have moved into actually working in the beer industry. I now cook at BrewDog Camden and am very happy doing it. This gives me access to a huge amount of beer and beer knowledge from my colleagues and customers. 

I came to the dinner on Saturday with only a vague idea of what would be on the menu gleaned from some tantalising tweets from Simon. I knew we would be treated to popcorn ice cream and ribeye steak in some form. What we were treated to was a six course feast of beautiful food. 

Here's what we had; 

#Sweet Potato Tortilla w/ Oyster Mushrooms Noisette and Rosemary Bread (V)
These came elegantly presented on a slate platter portioned into generous triangles for each guest. Served with beautifully crisp rosemary bread and an additional sweet potato sauce in handy bottles overall it looked great. The tortillas were thick and sweet balanced well with the earthy richness of the mushrooms. On the night I drank a Kernel Pale Ale, Nelson Sauvin Simcoe with this. It went well the tropical flavours from the Nelson Sauvin working well with the sweetness of the tortilla. If I were to eat this again I may match it with something slightly lighter flavour wise to allow the food more room on the palate, probably something like a Brooklyn Lager or a light IPA like Bengal Lancer from Fullers.

Yum Salaad - Cambodian Inspired Chorizo & Celeriac Salad

This dish was light but packed with huge amounts of flavour. Tangy and sharp with lemongrass, shrimp and paprika and a crispy chorizo. I loved this course, partly because I was seated with a few non pork eaters and so got a load of chorizo, but more because it was well balanced and interesting and extremely tasty. I still had some of my Nelson Sauvin/ Simcoe mix from the Kernel. It worked really well with the citrus from the hops and the citrus in the salad really working well together. The beer was an enhancement rather than a contrast and it was great. if i were to do this again I may bring a single hop Simcoe from Mikkeller or an IPA with a  lime profile like Punk from Brewdog. 

Bacon Swirls and Invisible Tomato (V: Cheese Swirls)
Sorry no picture of this one, but to describe they were pastry swirls of bacon and cheese. The invisible tomato was a tomato and basil consomme served in a shot glass on the side. It was perfectly clear but packed a massive punch flavour wise. This made me smile and laugh and get really excited.  It was loads of fun to try the consomme and feel your brain get slightly confused. On the night I drank the newly launched Kernel Red IPA (anyone getting the feeling I went by the brewery that morning?) and it was an amazing companion. The stronger malt flavour in a red IPA worked well with the strong bacon flavours and the lighter hop profile worked well with the consomme part of the dish. If I get to eat this dish again the beer would be exactly the same. 

Roast Ribeye of Beef w/ Roasties, Tarragon & Horseradish Sauce, Ginger Carrots & Simple Salad

On to the main course, a beautiful hunk of ribeye, served wonderfully rare in the middle and with two beautiful sauces. The horseradish sauce was beautifully mild with hints of english mustard and the tarragon sauce creamy and powerful. The roast potatoes were amazing, they were good last time we were here but just great this time, so crisp and tasty. I struggle to make them this well in small quantities at home, that Simon did it for coming on thirty people this well is impressive. I paired this course with a Kernel Export India porter, the deep roasted notes worked well with the seared beef and as a good counterpoint to the creamy sauce. If I were to match again I may go for something slightly less dark perhaps an Stone Arrogant Bastard or an 8 wired Tall Poppy. 

Oaty Cookie Popcorn Ice Cream Sandwich w/ Salted Caramel Sauce (V)

This was one of the courses I had some idea about having seen one of the 'tantalising tweets' from Simon. What I didn't know was that there would be salt caramel and oat cookies. This was awesome, I could have eaten a lot of this, despite already being full from the preceding four courses. The salt caramel really lifted the whole dish and the popcorn ice cream just made me smile, a lot. I had saved some of the porter from the main course for this and it worked really well with the creamy and caramel flavours on the dish. If I were to match again i think I would go for a mega stout. Perhaps a Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout or a Nogne O Imperial Stout or a Jahva Coffee Stout from Southern Tier. 

Petit Fours
(salted lemons, fudge, white chocolate)
(dark chocolate, black olives, caramel) 

These were a beautiful finish to the dinner, small nibbles with intense flavours. Chocolate and olives were amazingly well and were accompanied perfectly by some of the porter still hanging around. I also opened a Kernel Centennial to go with the lighter salted lemon and white chocolate petit fours and this worked ok,  though I felt that the Centennial perhaps overwhelmed the lighter flavours a little. If i were to match again I would keep something dark for the chocolate ones and maybe bring something strong and Belgian but fairly light on flavour like a Duvel or Tripel Karmeliet to finish up with. 

I cannot stress how much I enjoyed this evening, massive thanks to Simon and the team who helped him pull this off. The people who waited on us were polite, friendly and warm the whole evening and it really makes a difference. Just get yourself booked and down to enjoy some of this marvellous food, and consider taking some tasty beer with you! Email bookings@ferdiesfoodlab.co.uk

1 comment:

  1. Hey Kieran,
    Who would have imagined beer pairings - genius!! Are you two still keen to catch up over some food (I am sure I can persuade Ferdie to knock something together)..?